Thursday, September 09, 2010

Importing Goods into Singapore

I have been importing and exporting products, and the cost of shipping seems to be on the rise since I started shipping in 2005.

The Singapore post office costs are getting more and more unreasonable, and for shipping goods outside Singapore, SAL (Surface Airlifted) is no longer an option, and parcel posts are also sometimes not available.

Recently, as the cost of shipping and freight for import was a little unacceptable, I decided to try to import the products myself. This is what I have learned.


1) FOB
FOB is an initialism which pertains to the shipping of goods. Depending on specific usage, it may stand for Free On Board or Freight On Board, with similar but distinct implications. FOB specifies which party (buyer or seller) pays for which shipment and loading costs, and/or where responsibility for the goods is transferred. The last distinction is important for determining liability for goods lost or damaged in transit from the seller to the buyer.

Free on board means that the seller delivers when the goods pass the ship's rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks of loss of or damage to the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export. Buyer is responsible for all the costs incurred after the cargo has been LOADED on board.

FOB is one of the most common way of shipping for most manufacturers. What is usually means to me is that the manufacturer will absorb all the loading cost of the cargo, and usually it also means that the manufacturer will pay all the cost of the shipment, including documentation fees and shipment to the port for export.

I recently have a shipment of 100 sandals made by amputees, which I shipped from Jakarta to Singapore. The cost for collecting the goods, bringing it to the port and loading it on the ship is the FOB cost.


Export Charges - There are often handling fees, documentation fees, duties and other loading fees incurred.


2) B/L - Bill of Lading

A bill of lading (sometimes referred to as a BOL,or B/L) is a document issued by a carrier to a shipper, acknowledging that specified goods have been received on board as cargo for conveyance to a named place for delivery to the consignee who is usually identified. A thorough bill of lading involves the use of at least two different modes of transport from road, rail, air, and sea. The term derives from the verb "to lade" which means to load a cargo onto a ship or other form of transportation.


Importing Goods from Overseas in Singapore.

In general, non-controlled goods may be imported into Singapore without the need for licences.

What Permits Do I Need?

* For each shipment of goods, you must apply for an Import Permit through TradeNet®, your freight forwarder or cargo agent.

* If you are importing controlled goods, your Import Permit must be routed to the Competent Authorities (CAs) for approval. CAs are Government agencies that regulate controlled goods.

* Under certain circumstances, you do not need to apply for an Import Permit, e.g. importing trade samples that are worth less than S$400. A full list of these exemption scenarios are available on TradeNet® - Import/Export Procedures.


What do I need to do first?

1) Get your UEN by activation of your Customs Account. -> Link <- You need a Singpass for this, but otherwise, it is free. --------------------------------------------------------------- After you products are shipped from overseas, you will get the B/L. With your invoice and your B/L, you can apply for your permit. 2) Apply for the Permit (And pay custom taxes -- usually GST) With the information, you can a) Get a Tradenet Account and apply for the permit online.

b) Get help from a TradeNet Service Provider. (If you do not import as often.)


LCL - (Less-Than-Container Load)

Less than container load (LCL) is a shipment that is not large enough to fill a standard cargo container. The abbreviation LCL formerly applied to "Less than (railway) Car Load" for quantities of material from different shippers or for delivery to different destinations which might be carried in a single railway car for efficiency. LCL freight was often sorted and redistributed into different railway cars at intermediate railway terminals enroute to final destination.


When your goods arrive, it will be at customs of your shipping company. There will be import charges incurred. These import charges would include Port fees, LCL unload charges, Documentation Fees uncrating fees and many other charges.

Freight Invoice Sample

When your shipment comes, you can claim your shipment yourself from the customs, and you will need.

1) B/L
2) Invoice
3) Permit (See above)
4) Letter of authorization with company letter head to claim on behalf of your company, to enter the "Free trade zone" (restricted area) to collect the goods. -- This letter varies so check with the customs pass issue office on what is required.
5) Identity card. (Apparently Passport or driving license with photo is not enough)
6) D/O (Delivery order) If you pay the charges of unloading and port charges to your shipping company (The company warehousing the goods) they will give you your D/O

With all the items above, you are ready to go to the warehouse to collect the goods and then upon exiting, you need to give the proper documentation (show that tax and duties paid) and you can leave the customs area with your goods.

This process is not so simple, however it can save you a hefty amount of money.

-- Robin Low


jspt said...

Hi Robin, I do have some questions as I'm trying to do it myself as well. If you have the time, could we converse through email? Many thanks. - Julia

Hello said...

Can i ask you more regarding self collection of imports via email? thank you.

jacob20martin said...

Yeah, I agree that there are various medical courier deliveries but there are very less service providers that provide the service for same day delivery. Some businesses need to send the products on short notice so finding reliable logistic company can be a challenge. Isn’t that true for all kinds of businesses?